The staff at National Weather Service (NWS) office over in Pendleton had a vote about the top ten weather events that affected our area. I'm going to go through them all and give a brief synopsis of what went down, but before we get started I feel I should mention – the Pendleton office covers much of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon, including the Tri-Cities and Yakima as well as the Blue Mountains and the east side of the Cascades. Not all of these events will have affected you directly, but you probably heard about them.

Note: While I did base my article off of their statement issued on January 17, I did make an executive decision that made a small change. They had wildfires as #3 and the Canyon Creek Fire as #1, and I put them together as #1.

  • 1

    Multiple Wildfires Around the Northwest

    David McNew, Getty Images

    Remember the weeks on end with that gross, brownish red haze from all the fires around us? If you were in the area at all last summer, you know that there were many fires to deal with. For a time it seemed like every other week ODOT was closing Interstate 84 between Pendleton and Boise because of the fires. There was even a pretty big one north of Pasco on the 4th of July.

    The two specific ones they mentioned were the Canyon Creek Fire, which burned 110,261 acres from August 12 until November 5, and the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire, which burned 103,887 acres from August 10 until October 15. There were also big fires near Wenatchee and Walla Walla.

    I couldn't even go climb Mount Adams because there was a fire. On the mountain. How unfortunate. Good thing that's done now, because I happen to enjoy breathing clean air again.

  • 2

    Drought Conditions

    Almost every time I opened Facebook or flipped on the news, I was hearing about the drought. It kinda got old after a while. Many of the irrigation districts (including KID, which is mine) had fairly strict restrictions but how about this – according to NWS records, Kennewick didn't get any measurable rain at all for the entire summer. Drizzle, which Kennewick did have, does not count. On top of that, several locations around the area had their driest summer on record following a year of record low snow pack in the mountains.

    Your favorite neighborhood ecologist will also talk about how wildlife in our rivers and streams was affected by this because the lowered water flows decreased the water quality and increased water temperatures.

    All in all, I'm just really happy it's raining again.

  • 3

    Hot Summer

    I don't even have to go into detail about this. I'll just show you these.

    Mark Ingalls

    Those were the record-setting high temperatures on June 27 across the area and here's the forecast I posted on June 25.

  • 4

    November 17 Wind Storm

    I actually wrote a blog post about this for some of my friends over in Seattle. I drive down to Hermiston in this storm to go on a date, and there were tumbleweeds flying over Interstate 82 that were the size of SmartCars! I felt like I was driving my CR-V through a real life game of Super Smash Bros, except instead of being a player, I was just trying to casually meander my way there.

    The wind, and subsequent sand storm are blamed for many power outages, the Target Sign off Queensgate almost blowing down, and one death in a car accident near Stanfield. Here are the highest wind gusts that I could find.

    Mark Ingalls
  • 5

    December 21 Storm

    We didn't get any snow in the Tri-Cities, just a half inch or rain, but we were surrounded by it. It snowed five inches in Yakima and ten in Cle Elum. Winds gusted more than 65mph south and east of the Columbia River.

  • 6

    May Flash Flooding

    This is another one of those things that didn't quite get the Tri-Cities, but there was some flooding in the Bend area. There also happened to be a debris flow up near Rimrock Lake near White Pass. Pilot Rock, south of Pendleton, got an inch and a half of rain in less than an hour.

  • 7

    Strong El Niño

    Last fall we heard all sorts of doomsday predictions about the upcoming “Godzilla El Niño.” This continues to affect the weather around the globe. I happened to go to a weather conference in Portland last October and that was the main topic. While we heard that this winter would be another awful one as far as snowfall goes, but the professionals in Portland actually left us with a “the trend leans toward drier, but we really have no clue.”

  • 8

    Central Oregon Snowfall

    The Pendleton office also forecasts for Bend, so one of their things is a snowstorm that dumped eight inches of snow in that area. I left this in here because my mom lives in Bend, so shout out to her!

  • 9

    February Wind Storm

    A low-pressure system moved across the area in early February. I happened to still be in Nebraska on my mission, so I don't know a whole lot about this one, but evidently the NWS had winds up to 86mph in some areas. Looks like I really missed out on that.

  • 10

    December Rains

    It rained a lot last month. Everywhere around the Northwest was above average for rainfall. The Tri-Cities, for example, was at 1.73 inches for the month, with our average being 1.21 inches. There was massive amounts of flooding around the Portland and Seattle areas. There were mudslides and roads were washed out all over the place and anyone who tried to head over to the west side of the mountains knows that it was insane.

    Highway 12 over White Pass was closed for days because of washouts up there. There were two; one near Packwood and one east of the summit.